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The Future of Education and Skills in Asia

Education , Strategy and Partnership Programme

The Future of Education and Skills in Asia

Jakarta, 10 March 2022: Education is a key pillar of inclusive economic and social development, but as times change, education needs to improve and eradicate the gaps and inequalities within the sector. The future of education is being transformed by technological progress, and the skills used in the workforce are being updated. Consequently, to ensure inclusion and equity within education, certain changes need to be made to the curriculum, as well as establishing a foundation to adapt and develop new skills.

To understand and discuss key challenges and opportunities for education and skills in Asia, ERIA organised, together with the Asian Network, an online half-day conference.

The event was divided into four panels:

Panel 1: Ensuring Inclusion and Equity in Education

Moderator: Rubeena Singh, Research Consultant
Opening Remarks: Mrs Sofia Shakil, Director Economic programs at The Asia Foundation
Speakers:

  • Sumit Agarwal, Founder PR Signal
  • Angela Chen, Co-Founder at Eskwelabs
  • Sorawit Paiboonrattanakorn, Founder Saturday School

During her opening remarks, Mrs Sofia Shakil spoke about the challenges we face in the education sector, especially the gaps in technology coverage, which leaves many people who lack resources to miss out on many educational benefits. She also highlighted the mental and social health impacts as a result of the inequality of education.

Mr Sumit Agarwal shared his personal experience as someone who faced education inequality due to his disability. He spoke about how certain schools do not have the proper infrastructure and special education, and that the online learning for students during COVID-19 is a silver lining for people with disabilities, as learning can be accessed from everywhere, including the comfort of their individual homes. On the topic of schools reopening and the changes needed to ensure inclusion and better practices, he spoke about how teachers need to have adequate skills to teach people with disabilities. To bridge this gap, changes need to me made to both the form and the content of curricula. Furthermore, according to Mr Sumit, one of the most important skills to have in the future is emotional connectivity, as there is power with empathy and strength in vulnerability.

Ms Angela Chen highlighted two main benefits of the shift from in-person to online learning from a physical and psychosocial viewpoint. From a physical viewpoint, online learning provides accessibility and mobility; whereas from a psychosocial viewpoint, online learning comforts mental health, as one is able to zoom in and out of meetings at their own pace. As for more inclusive practices in schools, she mentioned upscaling data and improving livesthose with disabilities. This includes increasing the level of trust, flexible learning options, as well as explicit acknowledgement of performance. Moreover, she emphasized that technology is the future and that leveraging humans to work with computers is important, which shows the need for communicating with data and numerical literacy,

Mr Sorawit Paiboonrattanakorn spoke about how the gap in education is prevalent with online learning as those with a lower income do not have access to technology, and how the lower income community finds it very challenging to navigate through the online learning period. On the other hand, the higher income community thrives during this condition. In terms of inclusion in education, he spoke about how students learn better when they have they are motivated. For inclusion to happen, the lesser privilege needs to be to have access to digital devices and internet data to allow students to go online and spend time online learning. He also spoke of the importance of soft skills for the future to understand yourself and others to make an impact. This can be achieved through self-learning, self-confidence, managing stress, communication, and more.

Panel 2: Education and Skills - What are the right skills to have in the future?

Moderator: Giulia Ajmone Marsan, Directory of Strategy and Partnership of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia
Opening Remarks: Mrs Mariagrazia Squicciarini, Chief Executive Office Social and Human Sciences sector at UNESCO
Speakers:

  • Tippi Fernandez, COO & Co-Founder at Bagosphere
  • Alina Amir, CEO & Co-Founder Arus Academy
  • Linh Hoang, Co-Founder Ready to Lead
  • Jessada Salathong, Chairperson MA in strategic communication & Lecturer Chulalongkorn University

In her opening remarks, Mrs Mariagrazia Squicciarini accentuated the importance of combining digital and social skills. Although numeracy and cognitive skills are crucial for the future, social-emotional skills are just as important, like learning to be able to adapt to changes. In the future of education, she spoke about how there needs to be a balance between social-emotional and cognitive skills.

Ms Tippi Fernandez spoke about how improving education relies on developing a strong foundation of basic skills. This is an underlying problem when it comes to digital fluency, socioemotional problems, and poverty in the masses. As for soft skills in education, she mentioned the significance of digital skills and self-confidence as well as a balance between technical and human skills. The curriculum can be improved through speed of implementation to match rapid technology. Lastly, three skills she mentioned that are very important for the future include critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and communication skills.

Ms Alina Amir explained that the ability to determine what is relevant is very important, because it is what is happening around us. Students can be more critical and can filter through the adapting technology and learn good thinking and critical skills. Soft skills like interacting and staying consistent are important to master. She also spoke on how curricula should be designed to assess children’s values and growth, as well as teaching them to collaborate. Additionally, the top three key skills she mentioned were empathy, effective communication, and computational thinking skills.

Ms Linh Hoang discussed the importance of understanding the impact of the fourth industrial revolution on education to meet changing needs to cover multiple and emerging career paths. Leadership, self-management, proactivity, and reliance are some notable soft skills she spoke of. As for the design of education curricula, she spoke about the skills gap between what is learned at school versus on the job, and the importance for a more practical learning environment. In addition, the three key skills she spoke for the future are business skills, data analysis, and product development.

Mr Jessada Salathong spoke about having to develop human capital not only through skills, but also through mindset including both scientifically and emotionally based. For soft skills he spoke about the importance of communication, specifically media-effective communication. He also highlighted how the current education curriculum lacks flexibility and needs to become more dynamic and engaging. Furthermore, the three key skills he emphasized for the future are communication skills, empathy, and agility.

Panel 3: The Future of Education in Asia - Challenges & Opportunities

Moderator: Ravindra Ngo, CEO & Founder of The Asian Network
Opening Remarks: Mrs Yuri Obara Belfali, Head of Early Childhood and Schools at OECD
Speakers:

  • SuFen Cheong, Founder Pre-School Market
  • Cheryl Ann Fernando, Chief Executive Officer at Pemimpin GSL
  • Neelesh Bhatia, Co-Founder & CEO Akadasia

The opening remarks by Mrs Yuri Obara Belfali highlighted the new norm and the skills required to keep pace with the ever-changing context of society. She highlighted the important of continued learning and the key skills to be able to learn how to learn and constantly upskill.  She also emphasized the importance of growth mindset and soft skills.

Ms SuFen Cheong shared her views on the new normal challenges and opportunities through her experience of home-based learning and working from home. She spoke about how wealthier families have adequate access to resources and technology, whilst lower income families should be provided with solutions to not be left out. With respect to the limitations of ethical issues in technology, she spotlighted schools and family support as the two key partners to communicate with children for a healthy environment. She also spoke about how educational technology has changed with regards to how the world can be connected. However, changes from this can be good and bad.

Ms Cheryl Ann Fernando provided her perspective on the new normal and lack of access to date and devices. She then shared about performing a needs analysis to design lessons and interventions to provide the best options for education. She also spoke about the need to train teachers who are not equipped with skills and provide knowledge sharing to limit ethical issues like cyberbullying and data privacy. In terms of educational technology, she spoke about the need for digital improvement of education to solve the large gap of inequality. There needs to be a balance of advancements so that the students that are marginalized do not continue to be marginalized.

Mr Neelesh Bhatia spoke about the lack of access to devices and the internet during the new normal. He spoke about the value of transparency in instruction and the need for teachers to be upskilled in order to work with more technology savvy youth.  Teachers, as a backbone of education, are the root of tackling the challenges within education. To solve this issue, there needs to be a change in the scalability of teacher training and access to courses which can help them limit ethical issues in technology. Furthermore, he spoke about the immense opportunities of educational technology, but also about how the majority of people do not have access to them. Therefore, technology needs to be volume-based, instead of profit-based.

 Panel 4: ASEAN Chairmanship what role to play in the education sector?

Moderator: Giulia Ajmone Marsan, Directory of Strategy and Partnership of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia
Opening Remarks: His Excellency Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youths, and Sports department in Cambodia
Speakers:

  • Excellency Dr Mengly Jandy Quach, Chairman and CEO Mengly J. Quach Education
  • Vannarith Chheang, President Asian Vision Institute
  • Ravindra Ngo, CEO & Founder of The Asian Network

Opening remarks from His Excellency Hang Chuon Naron emphasized the impact of COVID-19 on education. He spoke about the growing need for new teaching methods and teacher training reforms with support from both private and public sectors. Furthermore, he spoke about the prioritization of  safe school environments, new skill sets, flexibility, and digital content for now and in the future. To get ready for the rapidly changing global market, he highlighted the importance to upgrade the curriculum to change according to the workforce needs.

Excellency Dr Mengly Jandy Quanch spoke about education and learning outcomes starting from the lack of fundamental education, mental health, and the lack of basic knowledge. On the topic of main priorities of the education sector, he spoke about the workforce and the lack of funding for education, due to the decrease of the national budget. There is a long way to go to resolve the gap, but the start of the solution could be to expose children to technology.

Mr Vannarith Chheang shared his opinion on how the schools and education system need dramatic change. He mentioned a more flexible curriculum to adapt to the current times, like digital content measurements and harmonizing the digital content standards. In regards to the main priorities of the education sector, he also spoke about the marginalization of socioemotional elements and the presence of the sociocultural pillar. To improve education, he mentioned the necessity of political partnership as the basis for the mutual recognition of changes in education. There are limited resources which shows the importance of allocating more budget towards education.

Mr Ravindra Ngo spoke about how disruption of education connects to disruption in human development. He highlighted the need of creating educational equality, and to find solutions for the digital divide. However, on the positive side, there are plenty of opportunities in blended learning and hybrid learning. He spoke on the importance of effectiveness within education. As for the main priorities of the education sector, he spoke on equipping students with the skills needed for work. This mainly includes creativity, self-awareness, and project-based learning.

Date

10 March 2022

Category

News

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